Depth through thought

OUCC News 15th November 1995

Volume 5, Number 23

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Brilliant Southerscales weekend, and great to see so many novices in the real limestone. Thanks to the catering team particularly.

SRT Practice

This will take place on Friday at New College School Gym from 7-9pm though speak to James as the gym wasn't booked at the time of writing this (it shouldn't be a problem). We will go to the pub afterwards so bring some money.

Self-Lining Skills

On Saturday's Tatham Wife trip, I was quite surprised to find that I was the only one with self lining kit. There seems to be an idea that you should leap straight into the full monty of SRT, and that you can't buy much useful kit till you can afford the whole caboodle. Not so !

Everyone with enough experience to lead or "second" a trip ought to know how to use self lining gear, and what to do with it should things go wrong. It is not expensive. All you really need to buy is an ascender and a couple of krabs. A descender is useful, but it can be something cheap like a fig 8, or even an Italian hitch. You don't need to buy a harness; you can do remarkable things with tape slings. Total cost - maybe 30 quid. It all comes in useful when you do get more gear to do the SRT biz. In the meantime you can act as an independent caver on ladder trips. Very useful at this time of year.

I will demonstrate self-lining techniques at the SRT practice ("vertical techniques practice") this Friday, including the dreaded "what happens if the ladder breaks" scenario.
The Fat Old Git (thank you, Chris D.)

Berger trip

James obviously doesn't read DTT! Details of trip have been in previous issues. To repeat: Dates of booking are 1st to 10th July. Own transport arrangements, best is to share car and drive out. Accommodation in tents near cave or Gite in valley. Gites are being booked, if you want to stay in one get in touch soon. Cost will be transport, full insurance (will be checked locally) and probably a contribution towards rope etc. This will probably mean bringing or paying for about 30-40m of rope. We need a robust inflatable boat- any ideas? Lots else to do in area. Other "tourist" caves, canyoning (caving without the roof i.e. in the sun!), climbing, mountain biking etc Contact points are me ( or Graham Naylor. Paul Cooper

Gear Order

In a couple of weeks there is a club trip to Derbyshire, and since there are several people wanting to buy oversuits, SRT gear, etc, we will be visiting Caving Supplies in Buxton. If anyone is thinking of buying gear, either enthusiastic (or just rich) new members, or people needing to replace that expedition jammer which has done one trip too many, then this is the ideal opportunity since if we get together a large enough order we will be able to get a reasonable discount.

You don't have to be coming on the weekend. If you give me details and a cheque then we can collect things for you. I should have brought a caving supplies catalogue along tonight which people can consult, and people will always be ready to give you (probably conflicting) advice on what to buy. You can either let me know next week, or on Email:
John soon-to-have-a-TSA Pybus

Not-caving in the Picos

A boring non-caving yarn for all those old lags like me that have slunk into armchairs semi-permanently. After a snail conference in Galicia at the beginning of September, and a leisurely drive back along the north coast scanning fish markets with a telescope for gulls with colour rings, I arrived at Arriondas in the middle of the night and couldn't resist forking right. How convenient that the sign forbidding overnight parking at Covadonga had 'fallen over', so I was able to roar up the hill in the fresh light of dawn, memories of 8+ years ago flooding back. But what I had forgotten was the full impact of that view of Pena Santa as you turn the last corner. A flock of 100+ choughs and alpine choughs was something I hadn't appreciated last time. Also a surprise was the pristine Tesco-style village below the mine, but I guess that is a good thing (but what prime hoverfly hunting ground it replaced!). Much less welcome was the results of investigating a clunking sound under the bonnet. A connecting rod in my suspension/steering was broken. As a bus-load of tourist gawped around me, and as the inevitable clag descended, I managed to tie it together with baler twine and set off slowly back down one of the less good roads in Europe for a steering failure (remember that Volkswagen over the edge? - very bad for the tourist trade). Well I survived, after which I reckoned it would probably last all the way to Cherbourg. Last, but not least, I had to check up on the usual bar in Cangas - totally the same, but the town seemed much busier and now full of supermarkets. !Tengo que volver!

Swinsto International

5pm on Friday I was just so looking forward to leaving work, piling me and my tubs in the back of the van, and relaxing with a tinny (or two) whilst someone else did the driving to Yorkshire. 5.05, and a colleague at work reminded me that I was supposed to be at a formal dinner in Merton, and, no, there was no way out since it was a small group, and the government's chief scientist would be there and, more importantly, was paying. Bollocks.

So, I put on my old flared-trouser suit (bought from Oxfam for a wedding the couple of which have long since divorced), and smiled my way through three gruesome hours of not-drinking and not-escaping to Yorkshire. 10pm, and I bundled into my van, and missed the Friday traffic all the way to Southerscales, where revellers still were revelling.

Saturday morning was vintage Southerscales. Tens of people (a record crew?) milling about in the fevered competition for sausages and the best trip of the day (I was to do my first ever trip into Easegill via County). Vintage also because amidst the rain the forecast was for more rain. Much more. In the end, many of the trips cancelled and came down County anyway (and several others probably should have done). County swarmed with OUCC parties, some wearing silly red hats with white bobbles. The impression was of an entire cave filled with Oxford cavers. In fact, the impression was actually an illusion caused by the repeated passing of Chris D, Jenny and their party on "underground navigation manoeuvres". Lost, that is. Fleur and Simon did their first ladder pitches, and all went well.

Chris may be crap at underground navigation, but he's simply storming at cavers' party games, and proved his point by squeezing the top rung of the Hill Inn cartwheel later (yes, James, I know you did it to). Several pints later, Chris then completed the first ever unassisted traverse of the Southerscales kitchen table, a wily little challenge. Ask him how he did it, but from his face at the time I guess the answer was that he hadn't a clue what was happening and was simply swept along by crowd spirit and copious ale.

Sunday morning, and the perfect conditions for a pull-through trip down Swinsto. Rivers full, skies clear, hangover raging. Oh, and three enthusiastic novices dying for a go at the ropes. This was a truly international trip, with citizens from Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland and the USA. "Rope Free" commands were given in English (though I did catch the odd Italian reference to the virgin birth at the top of the big pitch head). But you'd never have known, because the water was high, and the noise of the falls deafening. It was a superb trip, and Francois, Karsten and Simon picked up the essentials of abseiling in waterfalls very quickly (well, you have to). Maarten, on the other hand, succeeded in completing the trip by abseiling off his belt. Yes, he did have a harness, but he's a mountaineer and they seem to believe in making things as unnecessarily unsafe as possible, so he didn't clip into it. Oh, and it wasn't his belt: it was a club belt. You know, one of those "battery only" jobs that no one would ever dream of using as a belay belt. Unless they were a mountaineer I suppose. Lemming award?
Tim Guilford